Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physical sciences retractions’ Category

Unusual: Author uses a reference list to accuse a paper of plagiarism

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Here’s an unusual way to allege plagiarism: Do it in the reference list.

That’s what Brian Levine, a professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, did when he came across a paper he wanted to cite but suspected of plagiarism. When Levine published his 2017 paper, he cited the paper in question as:  

R.Rajan, “ Feasibility, Effectiveness, Performance and Potential Solutions on Distributed Content Sharing System [plagiarized],” Intl. J. Engineering and Computer Science, 5(1):15638–15649, Jan 2016 http://www.ijecs.in/ issue/v5- i1/30%20ijecs.pdf.

Levine’s paper, which explores a way of identifying perpetrators of online child pornography, provides no further details about the nature of the plagiarism or from what source the paper allegedly plagiarized. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

February 5th, 2018 at 9:40 am

Three papers retracted… for being cited too frequently

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An engineering journal has retracted three 2016 papers. The reason: They had been cited too often.

Although the reason for the retractions may sound odd, the editor, Minvydas Ragulskis, told Retraction Watch he was concerned an author had engaged in citation manipulation. Specifically, Ragulskis explained that the majority of the citations came from papers at a 2017 conference on which one of the authors, Magd Abdel Wahab, was chairraising suspicion that he had asked conference presenters to cite his work.

Almost three-quarters of papers that cited Wahab’s work originated from the conference, which “is large enough to assume a high probability for citation manipulation,” Ragulskis said. (Wahab, Professor and Chair of Applied Mechanics at Ghent University in Belgium, was not a co-author on the conference papers that cited his work.)

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Written by Victoria Stern

February 2nd, 2018 at 8:00 am

Author under fire on PubPeer issues puzzling correction to chem paper

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A researcher whose work has been heavily questioned on PubPeer has corrected a figure on a 2015 paper in Talanta — but the text of the correction doesn’t match the actual changes.

Recently, Rashmi Madhuri at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) in Dhanbad corrected a 2015 paper about a diagnostic sensor that uses nanoparticles, noting that there was a “small error” in the legend describing figure 1. But the corrected image bears the same legend it had before, and instead swapped a panel of the figure that had been questioned on PubPeer.

Here’s another puzzling element to the story: Gary Christian at the University of Washington, one of the editors-in-chief of the journal, tells us he doesn’t “recall being aware of the corrigendum:”

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Author retracts 2009 chemistry paper with “heavily doctored” images

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A researcher has retracted a 2009 chemistry paper after discovering that a figure had been “inappropriately edited.”

According to the journal, a reader brought the images in question in Figure 1 to the editors’ attention last September. Timothy P. Lodge, distinguished professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis — and editor of Macromolecules through December 2017 — told Retraction Watch:

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Written by Victoria Stern

January 22nd, 2018 at 8:00 am

Journal retracts “hopelessly flawed” paper linking cell phone radiation to pain

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Mario Romero-Ortega. Credit: UT-Dallas

A journal is retracting a paper linking radio waves from cell phone towers to pain in amputees, despite objections from the authors.

Anthropogenic Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Elicit Neuropathic Pain in an Amputation Model,” originally published Jan. 16, 2016 in PLOS ONE, suggested that rats with injured nerves experienced pain when exposed to the type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phone network towers. A press release issued by the University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) — where the corresponding author Mario Romero-Ortega and two co-first authors are based — said that this phenomenon has been reported anecdotally by people missing limbs.

But the study, especially its methodology, met with immediate criticism in the article’s comment section. PLOS ONE noted in March 2016 that the authors had contacted the journal regarding an error in some of the exposure levels reported in the study, which journal staff were “looking into.” In December 2016, the journal told the authors it was going to retract the paper. Now, more than one year later, it finally has.

Ken Foster, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who commented in February 2016 that the paper was “hopelessly flawed,” told us: Read the rest of this entry »

They thought they might solve the world’s energy problems. Then they realized they were wrong.

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Frederick MacDonnell

Researchers are retracting a 2016 PNAS paper that described a way to create gasoline-like fuels directly from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Senior author Frederick MacDonnell, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), told us he originally thought his team had made a preliminary breakthrough that might “solve the world’s energy problems.” Instead, he said:

It was an elaborate trap we fell into.

In a retraction notice that contains more information than we usually see, MacDonnell and his co-authors wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Elsevier retracting 26 papers accepted because of fake reviews

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Elsevier has retracted 13 papersand says it will retract 13 moreafter discovering they were accepted because of fake reviews.

A spokesperson for Elsevier told us that the journals are in the process of retracting all 26 papers affected by the “peer-review manipulation” and “unexplained authorship irregularities.” Most share one corresponding author, a physical science researcher based in Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

Editors-in-chief of math journal resign over controversial paper

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Both editors of a math journal have resigned over the decision to publish a controversial paper, which was apparently made without consulting the editorial board.

Last week, the editorial board of EMS Surveys in Mathematical Sciences issued a statement about the paper, saying its acceptance was “a serious mistake.” According to the statement, the two editors-in-chief of the journalNicola Bellomo, a professor at Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, and Simon Salamon, a professor at King’s College Londonhave “assumed responsibility for these mistakes” and resigned from their position.

However, a spokesperson for the journal told us the paper is not likely to be retracted.

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Written by Victoria Stern

December 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Mathematician protests retraction, alleging “manhunt”

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A math journal has retracted a 2015 paper after three outside experts informed the editors that “the paper contains errors which invalidate its main results.”

According to the retraction notice, published in the July 2017 issue of Manuscripta Mathematica, the author Ilya Karzhemanov “has not admitted to the alleged errors and disagrees with the retraction.”

It’s unclear when exactly the paper was retracted, but Karzhemanov, now associate professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, posted the now-retracted paper on arXiv in June 2017 and explained his “strong disagreement” with the retraction: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

December 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Scientist to chemistry journal: “Plse retract this ms ASAP”

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The presence of allegedly obvious manipulations in a 2017 chemistry paper has prompted a reader outcry.

Over the last couple of days, a user on PubPeer and others on Twitter have accused the paper of containing clear duplications; the paper was already corrected in August, in which one scientist alleges the authors replaced “an obviously fabricated” figure with a “slightly better photo-shopped one.”

In response, the editor of ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, David Kaplan, told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 30th, 2017 at 2:17 pm